Everything I've learned about writing a book, Grammarly, Hemingway, and AutoCrit Apps, getting Amazon Book Reviews, Indie and Audiobook Publishing, Book Promotion, the (huge) importance of Amazon keywords, Cover Creators and other things to help authors write and sell…
Two and a half years after I published my novel, it is still selling several copies a day.
Earlier today it had a sales rank of 50K (see the above screenshot). Sales have certainly declined from where they peaked about nine months after I published, but sales continue at a steady pace. And my novel is in a pretty small niche, so book sales have only so much upside in this niche.
My book is priced at $1.49, and it has been at that price for almost the entire time it has been for sale on Amazon, so I’m not wracking up sales by selling it at $.99.
Below you can see my Author Rank as tracked by Amazon. Even two and a half years after I launched my book it is still doing better than it did the month after I launched it. Again — see my blog on keywords. That dip the month after I published my book was because I did not know what I was doing (like most indies) with keywords. After that, I got my keywords figured out and my sales did much better.
My first attempt at a novel was a dystopian science fiction story while I was in 7th grade in Hays, Kansas. It focused on the Junior High students and our coming challenges as we were to be protected from a cataclysm that would wipe out society before were were to restart humanity. Probably not the best sci fi book plot of all time.
This morning, while I was sitting on the deck doing some writing, our dog (Trevose — named after the street we lived on in Singapore, where we adopted her from the humane society) and a buck had a conversation through our back fence.
Moments before, a huge owl had been sitting on a limb not far above where the buck was standing in this picture. And there used to be a famiy of hawks that lived in a nearby tree, but they seem to have departed about a month ago. We have a couple hummingbird feeders, but there seems only two that frequent them. And we have a squirrel with a black head and a brown body that crosses the deck from time to time. There is a downside…
This book came up in a discussion I was having earlier today. Published in 1968, and an eventual bestseller, The Population Bomb asserted that within 10 – 20 years the world would be wracked by starvation and wars for food.
In my early teens in the ’70s I lived in a small town in western Kansas surrounded by literally an ocean of wheat that farmers were going broke producing because the world had too damn much of it. So I could not reconcile the dire warnings of “The Population Bomb” and the reality around me.
I grew up reading Analog Science Fiction magazine. In fairness, it is more accurately Analog Science Fiction and Fact, but I always did better with the fiction part than I did the fact part.
Later in life, while earning my MA in Creative Writing, I had the chance to study under James Gunn at the University of Kansas. Gunn has published a number of science fiction novels over the last ~50 years, but he is probably better known in the sci fi community as a historian of science fiction and has published a number of books to that end.
I took three or four classes from him, and I spent some time chatting with him in his office, which was as you would imagine it: Stacked high with paperbacks on every flat surface, he was staring into the small screen of his antiquated computer. He eventually chaired my thesis committee.
As luck would have it, he came to our wedding. For a wedding gift — in typical Gunn fashion — he handed me a couple of his most recent paperbacks.
Think the success of the great novel you are working on is all about the writing? Think again if you want to have a successful book launch.
BookBaby has published the results of a survey which they describe as such: “The 2017 Self-Publishing Survey conducted by BookBaby was focused specifically on revealing the most successful book marketing and promotional strategies for self-publishers. The 56-questions survey targeted two subgroups: authors who have published at least one book (either self-published, traditionally published, or both), and aspiring authors who have not yet published a book. The online survey was conducted between October 24, 2016 – November 28, 2016, and was completed by 7,677 aspiring and published authors.”
Our home is full of great books. Though I’m the writer, my wife is far better read and has by far the bigger collection of great literature. One of her favorites has long been Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Her love of Little Women has been reinforced because we have four daughters.
One of our daughters found my wife’s battered, tattered and beloved copy the other day, and it happened when a camera was handy…
Aliens has long been one of my favorite Sci Fi movies. It is not great movie making, and it is not great Science Fiction. But it is a great action flick with lots of worthy special effects and various thrills. There is more than that, though, and it comes to a head when Ripley shouts out at the alien: “Get away from her you bitch!”
One of my daughters was given a scholarship to help fund her education in Art (medical illustration) by the art community of Spicewood, Texas. Spicewood is a small town southwest of Austin’s southwestern suburbs, so definitely out in the country. They asked her to join in their 4th of July celebration, so our entire family went. We cheered for the parade and then went to the community grounds where ~300 of us enjoyed hot dogs and cokes and a local band performing old favorites intermixed with short speeches. Near the start, a young woman tried to sing the national anthem. It did not start well.
Six weeks ago I was on the verge of sending my manuscript to my editor, but I had a few interruptions: My older twin daughters (yes, we have two sets of twins) graduated from high school and we had to visit the colleges they are going to for orientations, we moved to a new house (which was a ton of physical work, and I aggravated an old collarbone injury), my boss (and friend) was fired and I’ve taken on a bigger role at work, and my wife and I have both had to travel for various other reasons.
I saw some of this coming, so I decided to take advantage of the pause to have two more beta readers go through the manuscript. Both are accomplished readers with keen and critical eyes, and both are preparing to publish their first novels. I finally had some time today to look at their feedback in detail…
One of my 18-year-olds was the captain of her varsity soccer team and is a regular at the local cross-fit gym. She convinced me to join her on her first Spartan Sprint. At times it felt like an Army obstacle course, which I have not done in more than a few years. My train-up was less than rigorous, but we got it done without any injuries and without too much soreness.
Every blogger wants their site to move up in the rankings. So I was very excited to see that according to Alexa Rank (per their site) my writing blog has cracked the top 200,000 in the US and simultaneously broke into the top 1,000,000 worldwide. There are a lot of blog rank checkers, but Alexa rank checker is arguably the most authoritative. I’m still a long way from the front of the pack but doing far better than most websites, especially as an author platform. How did I do it?
I’ve long enjoyed military science fiction, so I have had The Forever War on my to read list for…well…you know…forever. I’m glad I did. Finally. It is not just damn good, it is good for a reason. Several, in fact.
One of my daughters is a capable artist and headed to an undergraduate program in Medical Illustration soon. As an aside, she is getting smarter about posting her art to websites and beginning to think about how to charge for her work. I’ve recently had similar discussion with some other writers about how they price their novels. What is really being discussed here is “Penetration Pricing” vs. “Premium Pricing”. Based on my own experience, it sounds more complicated than you might first think, but it is really not that complex.
I am happy to share that since I last made a donation in March, my sales of Youth In Asia about the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War have generated more than $600 of income for me. Not bad for a book priced at just $1.49, and of which I only get 30%. Since I’ve promised to donate half of my earnings, that is $300 more to donate.
Additionally, Crawford Roberts, the accomplished producer of the audiobook version of my novel had offered his services at a discounted rate, and then, after working on the projected, offered to complete it for free. I did not feel right keeping the $200 I had promised him, so I have added it to the $300 I will contribute. That makes $500.
Better yet, my employer again agreed to match my total contribution, so (in part due to Crawford’s and my employer’s generosity) I have just made a $1,000 contribution to the VFW’s National Home for Children.
With your help, I have now donated $1,650 to the VFW, Wounded Warrior, and similar organizations from my book sales to help our veterans
I will also donate a portion of my revenue from Lonely Hunter. Two of my children are chronically ill, so I’m happy to give to organizations doing medical research from which my children and all children will someday benefit.